WARSAW HALF MARATHON 2019
Now in it’s 14th year, the Warsaw Half Marathon is definitely a great event if you would love to see a new city as well as run a great distance.
Starting at 10:00am sharp on the 31st March, the Warsaw Half Marathon is an event that celebrates the advent of spring. Over 12,000 crossed the start line for this years event.
Registration fees for the Warsaw Half Marathon differ depending on how early you sign up but they start from 45 EUR for non residents
|Basic Race Kit (without t-shirt)||Race Kit with cotton t-shirt||Race Kit with technical (New Balance) t-shirt *||Race Kit with 2 t-shirts (cotton and technical New Balance)*|
|until 31st of October 2018||€45||€50||€60||€65|
|from 1st of November 2018
until 28th of February 2019
|from 1st of March 2019
until 28th of March 2019
|from 29th of March 2019 (and in the race office)||€65||€70||€80||€85|
I paid €65 to include the tech tee! Now just a note on the t-shirt sizes – I got an L and it only just fits me (I’m usually UK 12/14).
Race pack collection for non residents
There are several chances to pick up your packs over the weekend before the Warsaw Half Marathon. On Friday (29th), the race office is open from 12:00 – 20:00 at the COS Torwar which includes race pack pick up and the Sport & Fitness Expo.
At first we were a little bit worried as when we initially signed up, there wasn’t an option to pick the packs up over the weekend, only the weekend before. We queried how we would get our packs if we weren’t residents and then the information changed where we could pick up the packs on the Saturday as well. Your race kit can also be collected by another person provided he/she has your personal race card (signed) and copy of your ID. There is no possibility to collect your kit on race day.
The Saturday follows the same layout as Friday, except one special extra – from 14:00 – 19:00 there is a pasta party! You pay in advance (5EUROS) for your token and chance to have a meal the day before the race.
There are 3 different sauces to go with the pasta, you head to the Pasta Party where you collect your race packs. Pesto, tomato and bolognese – we chose pesto because it’s great. You are also given salad, 3 drinks (water, energy drink and a can of fizzy apple) and 2 puddings (a chocolate mousse and raspberry mousse).
You must have your token to get your meal from the pasta party which can be collected from the race pack pick up. The pasta party was on standing tables and let you just enjoy the music before you finish looking at the expo.
The expo featured lots of presentations, challenges, interviews and competitions. With over 60 stands, it really gave you the chance for any last minute questions on gear, nutrition and gadgets. There was a section called the “fun zone” which includes a dead hang challenge, event photos and a chance to learn about the different charities.
It was a maze of expo stands, so many different brands, races, kit and accessories showcasing their stuff. You had to walk through the maze before you pick up your pack – a clever way to get you to buy things. It is definitely worth a look around, but in reality, it’s only going to take about 15 minutes of browsing to get around it.
Pack pick up
This was definitely interesting for me, they couldn’t find my number. You get your start number emailed out a month or so before the start, yet they couldn’t find it. I knew they would sort it out for us but we were there at 18:50 so only had 10 minutes to get to the Pasta Party, I just wanted my pasta and they weren’t giving me my token – nightmare. Finally one lovely lady let me have my token whilst they took my name down and sorted it out for me.
On my return, they did have my pack. As I had changed the type of finishers shirt, my number had changed but I had not been given the new number. A simple problem that was fixed easily. In the pack you are given your number, pins, other race stickers, water, energy drink and other leaflets for more events and charities.
The fairly flat routes allows runners to see the sights of Warsaw. Starting at Konwiktorska, the route weaves around the city before coming into the finish. If you want to check out the route, click here for the map.
Warsaw is different. Rather than being centred on an old market square, the capital is spread across a broad area with diverse architecture: restored Gothic, communist concrete, modern glass and steel. The first half of the course is flat and slightly downhill with a slight incline towards the end of the course (about 20 m incline according to the main website).
There are water stations, with water and 4MOVE isotonic drinks throughout the course and toilets at each water station. On certain stations there was also a choice of bananas, sugar cubes, energy tablets and flapjacks. Just to note – don’t panic if the first aid stations are empty/packed away. I did when I was running and had to wrestle a few people to get my drinks but turns out there was at least 6/7 more tables that hadn’t been touched. It felt like each aid section was about 1/2 mile long (or what felt like 1/2 mile).
Running through a city definitely gives you another perspective. You get to experience the Central Railway Station, through Lazienski park, alongshore the Vistula, across Swietokrzysky bridge through the longest underground tunnel in Poland and into Old Town. I’m going to be honest though, it wasn’t the most scenic route I have ever done but certainly a good way to explore Warsaw.
It is a good route for all levels, definitely a good one for beginners. Runners have 3.5 hours to complete the course and no medical forms are needed for the event.
The event has pacemakers starting from 1:20 to 2:20 (so none for me then!). Marking at every 5 minutes, with some times having several pacemakers on that. It would be my dream one day to be a pacemaker! The race info pack actually provides pictures of who you will be running with, so you know in advance who to look out for. They also had the flags and usually a huge group of people running with them so they aren’t hard to miss.
Runners can head to the start line of the Warsaw Half Marathon for the 9:45 warm up. It takes about 20 minutes from the metro station to get to the start and then another 5 minutes to get to the bag drop. We lined up in our wave for the 10:00am start.
The clocks went forward on the Sunday morning and so we had to make sure that we woke up in time. I definitely tossed and turned all night relying that our phones would change! Although on the half marathon website, they do recommend to go to bed a little earlier than usual on the Saturday to mitigate any negative effects of one hour less.
We headed to the bag drop and I was amazed about how well organised it was. There were hundreds (okay maybe about 170) DPD vans all with corresponding numbers to your bib. You are given a sticker to put on your bag (only the official half marathon bag is allowed) which said what van you had. Once you handed it to the person in the van, they put it down in a specific order. There was no queue for the bags, we just walked right up and handed them in. When we went to pick up our bags, she had seen our number from afar and was already waiting to give our bags to us – efficiency at it’s best.
The music started pumping, the crowds started gathering in their waves, the pacers were cheering everyone on and the sun started shining. It really did feel like a good way to start to start a race. There were 2 commentators, one in Polish and one in English so at least we knew what was going on. Spectators cheers got louder after the starter gun was fired. We finally got over the start line (from our wave, it took us 20 minutes to get started) and with the rest of the runners, put our heads down and started running.
There was something about the atmosphere on this race. I can’t quite describe it but running with a crowd full of strangers, not knowing their language and everyone is cheering you on is definitely something. There was a constant flow of spectators and just happy runners.
Aid stations were just awesome, as I said earlier, I definitely panicked at the first few stations and ending up wrestling with other runners for drinks. We then turned the corner and there was so many tables left with water (check out the video so you can get an idea of the state of the tables). For the first 2 stations, I had the energy drink. On the 3rd, I decided to try a bit of water, big mistake – I think it was fizzy water. Liz who likes fizzy water described it as flat fizzy water, so not ideal for me when all I want was water. I stuck with the energy drinks for the rest of the race.
No matter where you were running, there was always a group of runners with you. Usually at my pace, I run quite slow so I’m by myself quite a bit. However, on this event, I did not ever feel alone – whether they were groups in fancy dress, singing runners or just there for some silent company – it was a good event to be with others.
My favourite part
It was definitely running through Lazienski park, it got quiet and was the main green section of the run. Running through the trees was so lovely and we ran past the palace on the water (I took some bad photo’s whilst I was running so here’s the link).
I didn’t have my best race, it wasn’t my worst either. My hip went about 8km in, I wanted to look after myself, so I took breaks to walk and stop the pain. Choosing to take my breaks at the water stations meant I could enjoy the bits I really liked (the park & the bridge).
Coming into the finish, there are 2 gantry signs, one looks like the finish and I started to do my sprint finish before I look up and could see the actual finish about another 100m away. The first one is just the marker for when you come into the finishing straight, and the spectators really begin to build up. There was so many of us coming into the finish line, it was such a lovely experience.
The marshals handed out our finishers medals and we had to walk the 1/2 mile back to the race village. Collecting water, energy drinks and foil blankets on the way – it was such a beautiful day there was definitely no need for the blanket. There was a buzz in the finishers funnel – we had just finished the Warsaw Half Marathon!
Runners at the end can also get tomato soup when they finish – something I’m not used to but it’s been the 2nd event this year where you get soup at the end. Unfortunately the queue was massive, it definitely would have taken us about 30 minutes of waiting and we just weren’t in the mood for soup, so we didn’t try it.
The finishers village for the Warsaw Half Marathon was just next to Old Town, so you could choose to enjoy the music and many festivities they had going on, including massage, food, drinks and many more – or take a walk into Old Town and explore the city.
Warsaw Half Marathon was definitely such a great experience – it really is an event for everyone, no matter what speed, what age, body type or experience – I think it really was such a good event for the atmosphere, for a nice route and to just have a good time.
Want to run the Warsaw Half Marathon – sign up here
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